Today in Motorcycle History

Simms Manufacturing Co

Addresses: 55a Southwark Park Road, Bermondsey; Welbeck Works, Kimberley Road, Willesden Lane, Kilburn

Percy Buildings, Greese St, Rathbone Place, London; Oak Lane, East Finchley, London N2.

1900 business founded by Frederick Simms

1901 Products included a 3.5hp Voiturette, a 6-hp water-cooled engine and the Simms Military motor.

1902 January. Announced four-cylinder engines of 20, 30 and 50-hp.

1903 The Simms Motor War car was built to the order of Vickers, Sons and Maxim. Construction was carried out by Beeston.

The Simms Manufacturing Co.'s Exhibit.

The following are the special lines to be exhibited by the above firm at the Stanley. The 1904 pattern 2.75 h.p. Simms bicycle motor fitted with Simms-Bosch magneto ignition, one of which will be shown running on coal gas, and one fitted to a motor-bicycle complete. In addition will be shown the new 3.5 h.p. Simms bicycle motor fitted with the Simms-Bosch "Arc-light" (high tension) magneto ignition, which the makers claim as one of the greatest novelties for the coming season. This system of ignition consists of a magneto machine which produces a "jump" spark without the aid of a coil, the machine forming a complete outfit in itself. Further, it is fitted with a lever by means of which the spark may be advance or retarded. It is also applicable to any motor, as all that is necessary is to arrange a suitable rotary drive, and connect one wire front the terminal to ignition plug. One of these 3.5 h.p. motors will shown fitted to a Chater-Lea frame with Mills and Fulford fore-carriage. There will also be various size motors suitable for launches.

1903 Stanley Show, as reported in The Motor magazine, 11th and 18th November 1903

The Simms Manufacturing Co., Ltd.

This exhibit will consist of one 3½ h.p. motor bicycle, fitted with the firm's well-known magneto ignition system, also several 2¾ h.p. machines fitted with 1904 Simms motors, these latter possessing several improvements over those of last year's pattern. A 3½ h.p. motor cycle will also be exhibited, built up with Chater-Lea fittings, with Simms engine and Mills and Fulford forecarriage. In addition to the above will be shown a complete magneto machine, with rotary movement, driven by means of a chain off the half-speed shaft. This will generate a high tension current, no coil being required, and an ordinary sparking plug being used. The makers state that with this apparatus the ignition is capable of being advanced and retarded to the same extent as when using the ordinary high tension system.

The Motor Cycle, November 18th, 1903. Page 798
Stanley Show 1903

1904 to 1907 Built cars and commercial vehicles, vans and heavier chassis, as well as engines for other manufacturers including Bowden and Kynoch.

1905 Built Simms-Welbeck cars of 12-hp, 20-hp and 26-hp.

1906 A bodied single-decker for Durham and District Motor Omnibus Co was delivered from London. This journey took over two days to cover and was 270 miles in distance.

1906 A 30-40 h.p. Simms-Welbeck car was introduced.

1908 Mr H W Forster MP had the steam engine in his yacht replaced by a 100hp Simms motor.

1909 Acquired the exclusive British rights to the Voisin Freres aeroplane, and exhibited aircraft at the Olympia Show.

1909 Last listing of Simms-made car.

1913 Frederick Simms started another business, Simms Motor Units, initially as a sales and repair organisation for motor components, especially dynamos and magnetos. Manufacture was initially undertaken by others on behalf of the firm.

WWI An important source of components for the company was the Simms Magneto Co of New Jersey, established by Simms in 1910.

1915 A subsidiary, the Standard Insulator Co, was established

The English workforce grew from twelve in 1913 to more than 300 by early 1919.

1920 October. Exhibited at the Commercial Motor Exhibition at Olympia with magneto equipment for commercial vehicles

1920 Simms Motor Units moved to extensive new premises in East Finchley, the Grange Works, where a variety of magnetos would be produced. The motor accessory department had been moved into the new works and the Wardour St premises given up. The magneto repair department was moved from 46-48 Foley St to 37 Percy St, London W. Had established a network of agents in UK and abroad, including handling exports from the American Simms Magneto Co.

1920 The Kilburn works were virtually destroyed by fire.

1926 Substantial business in supplying magnetos and electric service for every kind of vehicle, in UK and abroad; the number of customers was about 11,500, about double that of 5 years previously. The company was renamed Simms Motor Units Ltd. The East Finchley works was reopened in the summer; half was occupied by Standard Insulator Co.

1928 Simms Motor Units acquired the 75 percent of Standard Insulator that it didn't already own[4]. Standard Insulator made vulcanite components for the Simms magnetos; it also sold enamelled wire, wireless components and other electrical items to which it had sole rights in the UK.

1930 the company began to move in new directions to match changing automotive technology, particularly the change from magnetos to dynamos; this resulted in the company making losses for some years.

1930 The works at Percy Buildings were moved to the factory at East Finchley[5]

1935 Frederick Simms resigned from Simms Motor Units.

1937 Magneto and petrol gauge manufacturers. "Uniflow" Diesel Fuel Pumps jointly developed with Leyland Motors.

1938 Sales of diesel equipment had begun.

1939 Sales of aircraft magnetos began.

1944 Producing Uniflow injection pumps for diesel engines.

1944 Advertised for Fuel Injection Equipment.< p>1954 Continued expansion of engineering activities; acquired H.S.M. Ltd, a non trading company, which owned Horstman Ltd of Bath.

1956 Acquired Mono-Cam of Molesey, developers of fuel injection pumps, from Southern Areas Electric Corporation who had acquired patent rights but decided not to develop the fuel injection pump.[9]

1956 Acquired Hadrill and Horstmann of London, makers of counterpoised adjustable lamps, Clearex Products Ltd, R. F. Landon and Partners which manufactured Kingsway burners and other oil-fired equipment. Formed Simplus Products to exploit various domestic products.

Continuing its planned diversification, the company acquired Industrial Fan and Heater Co of Birmingham.[ Acquired one-third of the shares in Aircraft Steel Structures Ltd.

1957 Simms Motor Units took over Motor and Electronics Corporation; the company name was changed to Simms Motor and Electronics Corporation; as a result Simms Motor Units became a private, holding company.

1961 Manufacturers of diesel, electrical, fuel injection, ignition and other equipment for commercial vehicles and marine and industrial engines. 1,800 employees.

1963 Motor Show exhibitor. Fuel injection systems.

1968 Simms Motor Units was taken over by Lucas in 1968 and integrated within the CAV division.

Manufacturing in East Finchley was steadily run down and the factory closed in 1991 to be redeveloped for housing. It is commemorated by Simms Gardens and Lucas Gardens.

Source: Graces Guide

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